New observations of an oddball planetary system 150 light-years from Earth may force astronomers to rethink the textbook definition of a planet and the accepted idea about how such a body forms. The observations suggest that either some planets are superheavy or that planets can form from disks of gas and dust that encircle not just a single star but two starlike objects.
Two years ago, when astronomers at the Geneva Observatory in Sauverny, Switzerland, reported their findings on the sunlike star HD 202206, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. The team announced that a body at least 17.4 times as heavy as Jupiter orbits the star. The unseen body resides at an average distance from the star of 0.82 times the Earth-sun distance.
The same team, led by Alexandre Correia of the University of Aveiro in Portugal, has now found evidence for a second unseen body orbiting HD 202206. This object is at least 2.4 times as heavy as Jupiter and resides at an average distance from the star of 2.55 times the Earth-sun distance, the researchers report (http://xxx.lanl.gov/abs/ astro-ph/0411512).
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An international research team with Prof. Cornelia Denz from the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Münster develop for the first time light fields using caustics that do not change during propagation. With the new method, the physicists cleverly exploit light structures that can be seen in rainbows or when light is transmitted through drinking glasses.
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Scientists of Tomsk Polytechnic University jointly with a team of the V.E. Zuev Institute of Atmospheric Optics of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences have discovered a method to increase the operation range of optical traps also known
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